I went into Starbucks this morning to get my once weekly latte. Caffeine gives me a jittery buzz followed by a headache, but on Sundays I succumb to the craving for a fine cup of coffee – fine meaning any coffee I don’t brew myself.
Because it was early and I was the only one at the counter, I noticed the tip box right by the cash register as I was handing over my money. I got $2.50 back in change, which I wanted to pocket except that the tip box, already seeded with a couple of dollars and some change, made me feel like a cheapskate.
I carried on this really quick debate in my head: “All she did was repeat what I wanted to the barista, take my five bucks and hand me my change. Why do I have to put extra money in the tip box?” To which I replied in my head, “They probably don’t make much money, and it’s only fifty cents, just put it in there, you tightwad.” To which I responded in my head, “Why the heck doesn’t Starbucks pay them enough money rather than making me feel like I’m taking food out of their mouths when I don’t want to reward them just for doing the job they were hired to do?”
The generous half of me won – I put the money in the box, grumbling in my head the whole time and wondering why tipping is becoming the norm these days. I worked as a waitress during college, and I’m not sure how they got away with it, but they only paid us half of minimum wage. We were supposed to get the rest of our income from tips, which we all managed to do. One woman I worked with did quite well for herself. She’d race over to everyone tables and steal their tips if we didn’t beat her to it. It was like those bonuses managers gave themselves from the bailout money. They didn’t deserve it either, but that didn’t stop them from stealing our hard earned tax payer dollars.
I’m okay with tipping people who give you a lot of personal attention like your massage therapist or hairdresser. Also tipping the bellhop who drags your overstuffed luggage to your room. Paying him to put his hand back in his pocket and vacate your room is worth it.
But people whose whole interaction with you is to take your money? I’m not sure about that. What’s next? The grocery clerk at Safeway? The person selling tickets at the movies? The kid hawking Girl Scout cookies at your front door?
So I’m going to generously give you a tip, Starbucks, along with every other coffee shop and deli in the world. Put up a sign saying, “No tipping, please! We pay our employees more than enough to scrape by – they don’t need any handouts from you, thank you very much.” Then actually pay them a decent wage.
You guys are just like coffee. You leave a bitter taste in my mouth and give me a headache.